Firstborns are sometimes the sniffliest of sibs

By • Published: June 2nd, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

OK, firstborns. You’re getting a little cocky. Of course, it’s hard not to when study after study shows that firstborn children tend to be, well, a bit more booksmart than their brothers and sisters, and perhaps more likely to be president of the United States. And, although no one will admit it, everyone knows you’re probably Grandpa’s favorite, too.

Now, there are research findings that your younger siblings may be able to tease you about: firstborns may also be the sniffliest of the sibs during allergy season.

A new study from Japan has shown that firstborn children are more likely to suffer from allergies than their younger brothers and sisters. In fact, the tendency to develop allergy problems seem to decrease the further a sibling falls down the family tree. Basically, if you’re the youngest of your brood, you’re less likely to have allergy troubles than your older siblings.

According to the study, firstborn children had a 4 percent chance of being allergic to some type of food. Children born third in their families faced a less than 3 percent chance of developing an allergy like this, though.

Interestingly, the researchers also discovered that when siblings were babies, those with a higher birth order rank were less likely to suffer from wheezing and more likely to have a food allergy than their younger sibs.

Roughly 3 million children in the United States have food allergies. And the biggest offenders are a small group of foods, namely shellfish, milk, nuts, soy, wheat and eggs.

Why is this allergy more common among firstborn children? The researchers do not know but say the trigger for an allergy may get pulled before the baby is even born.

So, if you have older or younger siblings with allergies, give them a break from the sibling rivalry. After all, you’re family.